The Wednesday before last, Audrey Frost came to my house. She smiled at me as she walked in, put her hands firmly on my shoulder and looked at me with her blue eyes through her silver-rimmed glassed. Her chin-length hair was grey. She was one of the ones who had been around the church since the beginning 40 years ago.
"Grace," she said, "I'm so concerned for you."
I don't know Audrey very well, we sit in the same row at church on Sunday mornings, and have only exchanged a few conversations here and there. She explained that she doesn't get internet very well in her house, but she had read my last blog. "You sound so discouraged, Grace," she said. "And I believe one of the gifts God has given me is to have such a strong sense when someone needs me. Now, I know you have other people, but I don't know, I just feel so strongly that the Lord wants me to come alongside you and be a mother to you and encourage you."
I began to cry. Somehow when she said that, it just seemed so perfect, though I had never thought of that. "Yes, yes! That's exactly what I need," I cried. I may not know my needs, but the Lord always does. And He meets all our true needs, so kindly, even when we aren't aware of our needs ourselves. Having a true "older woman" by definition, who looked and talked like she had fallen off of the pages of Titus 2 was like a dream come true.
"Grace, I feel so concerned for you, because you sounded so discouraged in your blog. Now, you said that you feel guilty about so many things. Why do you feel so guilty?" She was holding my hand as we walked into the living room.
I went on to say how sad I was that I couldn't be a full-time mom to my children and a full-time nurse to my husband and that I would just do absolutely anything to keep my husband from dying...not that it's really up to me.
She sat me down on the couch and sat directly in front of me on the ottoman, her hands firmly holding my shoulders, looking into my eyes, smiling. "Well that's not sin," she said. "That's weakness. And you don't need to feel guilty for that. And the Lord can give you strength to do all those things, and if you can't do it on your own, then the Lord will send someone to help you."
I certainly knew that to be true.
"And if you have sinned, what does 1John 1:9 say you have to do?" she said.
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness," I answered.
"That's right!" she said. "So if you've done that then you don't have to feel guilty. Because what is it saying, if we still feel guilty even after we've repented of our sins?"
"That Christ's blood is not enough."
"That's right," she said.
"But I feel guilty all the time anyway," I said. "I always feel guilty because I know there must be sins that I haven't confessed either because I'm unaware or because I've just blown it off and haven't thought deeply enough about it."
"Well then you can pray what David did in Psalm 139: 'Search me, oh God, and know me. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me...'"
I looked at her like, let me tell you, there have been times where I have sung that all day long.
As if in response she said, "And if you asked the Lord to reveal to you any sin and He doesn't, then you don't have to worry about it then. That's why He said in 1John 1:9 that He purifies you from all unrighteousness. He knows. He knows that we are weak and don't know all our sins. There's too many. That's why when we confess the sins that He does reveal to us, He purifies us from all unrighteousness."
I nodded, still crying.
She offered me a tissue. "The Lord loves you. And is for you and rejoices over you. He loves you so much."
I stared at her lips, mouthing her words, the tears pouring. Each day the gospel still continues to be a shock to me. How is it after my relentless sin, He continues to forgive me and is for me and is not only not reluctant in His favor, but rejoices over me? How could THE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE adopt me as His precious child?
"There are only a few things that the Lord says we need to get done everyday," she said. "And what are those things?"
I was silent for a few seconds. Then laughed and cried at the same time: "I'm trying to think of all the 'right' answers, rather than say what I'm really thinking and struggling with."
She nodded, still smiling at me so warmly, still bracing my shoulders and looking into my eyes. "That's okay," she said.
"Feed my children and my husband. Make sure they don't die," I said.
She continued looking warmly at me.
"I don't know why I'm so obsessed with that, so fearful that they're not going to get fed. It just takes so much time to make all of Andrew's foods and juices. And yet by God's grace, He has always helped me to get those things done."
She nodded. "What else? What does the Bible say we need to get done everyday?"
"Worship Him?" I offered.
"That's right," she said. What else?"
"Well, I guess we are to love Him...Trust Him...Obey Him..."
"Right. And what does Philippians 4 say?"
"To be anxious for nothing, but to make all our requests known to God in thanksgiving and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard our hearts and our mind," I said.
"So you see, He says not to be anxious, because He will take care of it. And it takes so much energy away from you to be worried. I'm concerned for you and your health. It's not good for you to be worrying all the time."
I nodded, sniffling with more tears. I had been feeling convicted of those very things that week.
"And what about 1 Thessalonians 5:16, what does that say?" she said.
"To rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks."
"That's right!" she said. "And why are we able to give thanks in everything?"
"Because He is good and does everything for our good and His glory.
We talked for a little while longer about various things, Audrey continuing to express love and concern to me. She hugged me.
"Thank you, Audrey," I said. "Thank you for ministering the gospel to me."
The next morning Audrey called me while I was parking the car at the doctor's office. "Grace, how are you?" she said.
"I'm good!" I replied.
When I hung up the phone, I turned to Andrew and said, "I think that's the first time I've said 'I'm good' in at least a month or two."
The rest of the day felt like a celebration. I was able to enjoy all of God's gifts - the sunshine, my children, and the sudden energy that made my husband awake enough to be able to chat - rather than be in a cloud, distracted from what was in front of me. I could celebrate and enjoy those things all because of the gospel: that I knew I was accepted in Christ and that His wrath, indeed, was not against me. No, "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ." And yes, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" And, "Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ."
Rather than feeling condemned and judged, which only made me want to cower in a corner and hide from God, Audrey's ministering the gospel to me made me want to depend more on the Lord, pray more, and read His Word more, bringing all my disappointments, hurts, and frustrations to Him, because He cares for me and is not against me.
I love the gospel of grace. To be rescued from His wrath by trusting in His Son Jesus to have taken the guilt of my sin on Himself on the cross. What incredible injustice for Him to repay my guilt with his favor rather than His wrath. The gospel, what rain from heaven.
Please pray for us:
1. - That we would believe the gospel, (that Christ's blood is enough and so He is for us and rejoices over us and His condemnation is not against us). That we would not believe Satan's lies of discouragement. It is a daily battle.
2. - that we would be anxious for nothing but that the peace of Christ would rule our hearts
3. - and that Andrew would be able to get off his pain narcotics ASAP. Right now that seems impossible, his pain is so great, and yet I think it's mostly his narcotics that make him so tired and feel so yucky so much of the time. But I know the Lord answers our prayers, so we can come boldly before His throne with our cries and ask God to heal Andrew of all his pain so that he won't need the pain killers.
4. - that Andrew's full body PET scan on Wednesday, Sept. 17th would show Andrew to be cancer-free. That it would be accurate and there would be no confusion about the results. It will take a week to get the results.